Shell Netherlands is currently discussing the changes to our pension as a result of the Future Pensions Act (WTP) with the Central Works Council (COR). In recent weeks we have received many questions from employees and other participants about how they can give their view on the upcoming changes.
The government has explicitly aimed to ensure proper involvement of all participants, but has deliberately chosen not to include an individual right of objection in the new legislation. The intention of the government is to enable a good transition to the new system. An individual right of consent would make the transition considerably more complex and virtually impossible. Another factor is that it is a very complex matter and that many people may not be able to properly oversee or assess the consequences. Adequate involvement of the participants is therefore guaranteed in other ways.
At Shell, the pension agreement is a topic that is discussed with the COR. The COR has a right of consent; This is regulated by law. Shell Netherlands and the COR must go through a careful process, in which a comprehensive transition plan is drawn up by Shell, in which all choices and considerations must be included. The changes affect not only Shell employees, but also former employees (the so-called deferred members) and pensioners. Shell Netherlands and the COR must take all interests of all parties involved into account and, ultimately, take a balanced and informed decision. The COR is supported by an expert and has also set up a WTP working group. In addition, the COR regularly consults a sounding board group that includes colleagues who have knowledge about pensions.
The other participants must also be involved in the process. The representative associations of pensioners and deferred members (at Shell this is VOEKS) have a hearing right and can thus give their opinion on the transition plan. Shell Netherlands and the COR will also have to take this opinion into account in the final decision-making process. Once a decision has been taken, that decision is then submitted to the pension fund. The pension fund must then review that decision and, among other things, assess whether the requirement of a balanced decision has been met. In addition, the pension fund will also seek advice from the Accountability Body, in which, among other things, pensioners are represented. In this way, the government has safeguarded a very careful process with all kinds of stakeholders.
At Shell, we implement these legal safeguards very carefully. For example, we have been in discussions with the VOEKS hearing rights committee since the beginning of this year to include them in the decisions to be taken and various aspects that are important in this regard and also to receive their input and feedback. This also applies to the COR, with which we have been holding information sessions about the upcoming changes since the beginning of last year.